Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 12, 2022)
Sean Gunn usually pops up via small roles in his brother James’ flicks like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad. Sean finds himself in a more prominent part via 2021’s I Am Mortal.
Set more than two centuries in the future, “The Pilot” (Gunn) develops a genetic vaccine. This allows for human immortality and creates a utopian society sans conflict and crime.
However, some question whether or not endless life seems like the best way to go. On the verge of his receipt of this vaccine, young Logos (Abraham Lewis) gets involved with a group that rebels against the current system.
The notion of whether or not human immortality would be a good idea seems like an intriguing concept for a story. Too bad that Mortal finds nothing interesting to do with the theme.
Mortal really deserves the title Exposition: The Movie. It often feels like next to nothing actually occurs here, as instead, we find ourselves with endless scenes in which characters talk about society.
A better-written script might find some compelling philosophical threads to tug. However, Mortal sticks with nothing other than the most simplistic takes on these topics.
As such, Mortal feels like a movie that wants to get into Big Ideas but can’t figure out a good way to access them. It imposes notions without much logic or exploration beyond the most superficial.
Before long, Mortal evolves into a film with a Christian message, one that it explores in a ham-fisted manner. At no point do any of those who believe in mortality – and the concept of a soul – explain why they feel as they do.
Instead, they think what they think… just because, I guess, and they blindly feel everyone will agree with them if given the chance to hear their ideas. This makes no sense – they expect people to sacrifice immortality in their peaceful society to instead join a system based on blind belief instead?
I don’t want to dig into religious debates here, but it seems clear a whole lot of people hold onto religious concepts due to the promise of life after death. If folks live in a world where they never need to die, why would they bail for the vague promises of… something never really specified?
That’s a major flaw here: Mortal never explains why the “rebels” feel that the old ways are better or what these immortals miss out on in their current state. Immortality certainly comes with potential downsides, but the film does nothing to explore these.
Instead, it just presents the “rebels” as a cult who will connect with some viewers because they live in a society with an emphasis on religion. However, their beliefs and attitudes make much less sense in the world portrayed here.
It doesn’t help that Mortal lacks a coherent script. Events happen willy-nilly, and the viewer may often wonder if scenes got lost along the way, as sequences connect haphazardly.
Really, not much makes sense here, and the film fails to present events in a compelling manner. No matter how much the ultra-serious characters and the pulsing music attempt to convince us that we get an Important, Meaningful Story, nothing packs a punch and creates drama.
As religious propaganda goes, Mortal seems less ham-fisted than it could be, but that’s mainly due to its sketchiness and lack of coherence. It winds up as a muddled, purposeless tale that fails to explore its subjects well.